Verhofstadt on Irish border: 'You have cows from the north, eating grass from the south'

European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator was speaking during a special committee sitting in the Dáil

Verhofstadt on Irish border: 'You have cows from the north, eating grass from the south'

The European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt and MEP Marian Harkin talk to dairy farmer Arthur Hughes (left) on his cross border farm in Co Armagh. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The Oireachtas has been given a commitment that Ireland will not be used as a bargaining chip in the EU/UK Brexit negotiations.

The pledge came from the European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, who was speaking during a special committee sitting in the Dáil earlier today.

Mr Verhofstadt - who is here on a two-day visit - added that Ireland would not be allowed suffer for a decision made by Britain.

He told members of the Oireachtas: "The emergence of the border question between Northern Ireland and Irish republic has not been caused by you - neither by the rest of the European Union.

"It is the inevitable consequence of the choice of Britain to leave, so the resolution is entirely the responsibility of the United Kingdom - it is for them to come up with a workable solution."

Mr Verhofstadt visited border areas yesterday to meet with local farmers, as well as groups  opposed to Brexit.

He tweeted what he called a 'visual demonstration' of the current situation:

Today Mr Verhofstadt highlighted the unique challenges that will be faced in attempting to find a solution to the border issue

He argued: "It was completely impossible to see when one jurisdiction ended and the other started. The cows especially couldn't see it - cows from the north, eating grass from the south; milked in the north by a farmer from the south; with their milk bottled in the south.

"I'm a Belgian, so surrealism comes naturally to me. But to reinstate a border would be more than surreal: it would be totally absurd."

Reporting by Chris Donoghue and Stephen McNeice